I was probably around 12 years old when I realised that I wasn’t built like the rest of the girls my age.
Whilst other girls bloomed into teenage-hood, I just bloomed. Along with my ever-increasing waist-line, my early teenage years (and subsequent young adult years) were fraught with low self-esteem, being bullied and generally hating the way that I looked.
I remember, at 13 being told by a guy I asked out that “sorry, I don’t date fat girls”; I remember at 14 having food thrown at me from a moving car and being told to “eat up fatty!”; I remember at 15 being physically assaulted by strangers who followed me home – because of the size of my body; I remember at 16 being too scared to confront someone who called me and my girlfriend “fat dykes”; I remember at 17, grabbing handfuls of my skin and feeling physically repulsed by what I saw in the mirror; I remember at 18 finding myself unable to throw myself into excursions in New Zealand because I was too worried about what people would think.
Then – thank god – at age 21 I discovered the body positive community. Finally, I thought, here are women my size just doing life in their bodies. I embraced the body positive community with all my might and, at a size 24/26, I finally began to love myself not in spite of my body, but because of it.
The tumultuous relationship that I had with my body soon began to ebb, and I started to feel myself actively seeking ways in which that I could improve my view of myself, so I blogged. I blogged, and I posted on social media, I got hacked off and empowered by trolls online, I challenged body stereotypes and I put myself out there – every day. Working on myself in this way enabled me to nurture my mentality and eventually I cultivated a relationship with my size 24/26 body whereby I could finally look at myself in the mirror and declare that I did love myself and the way that I looked.
If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be sitting here today writing a post about weight-loss, I’d have thought you a liar… but here we are. I know that a lot of people who once found solace in my words don’t agree with my weight-loss, or perhaps the way I’ve gone about it – but this is something that is happening in my life and I want to share with you all.
Firstly, I want to say that I, IN NO WAY, encourage you to lose weight if it is not something that you want to do. Body image is subjective and, as the body positive community shouts about, it’s your body – your choice. Secondly, I want to say that I did not begin losing weight because I wanted to be smaller. At a size 26 I felt that my bones were creaking, I was breathless doing the simplest of things, my sciatic pain was at an all-time high and I was finding it hard to move around as freely as I’d like. For me this was not a road that I wanted to continue down because I could physically feel my body being negatively impacted by my size.
I want to reiterate that this is a subjective and personal account of my experience of being a size 26 and weighing nearly 20 stone. I, in no way, attribute my experience to the experience of anyone else and wholeheartedly believe that you should live in your body HOWEVER you want to. I also believe that no matter YOUR size, YOUR worth does not increase, or decrease. Please remember that this is my experience and not reflective of how I think or don’t think others should live.
Having been fat since my early teenage years, I had little to no idea of how to go about feeling more internally healthy. I had heard about Slimming World from some friends and, after extensively researching, I decided to join.
Since I joined nearly a year ago, I have learnt how to cook from scratch with fresh ingredients; I have found a flair for cooking that I never knew I had; I find enjoyment from creating delicious meals for myself. Slimming World has taught me how to nourish my insides, and, as a result, these changes have altered my appearance and I have subsequently lost 5 stone.
I don’t think that I should be chastised for utilising something that has made me feel so much better – a word which here means internally better, not ‘better’ in terms of body image perception.
I can breathe.
I can move.
I can bend, stretch, walk.
My sciatica no longer flares up.
My knees no longer feel like they’re going to give way.
I can cook.
I can still eat.
I feel physically more able.
But also… losing weight is weird. Really weird.
As I’ve got smaller (I now weigh around 14 stone 4lbs and am a size 16/18), it was inevitable that people would notice the difference, and incidentally, have been pretty vocal about the differences they’ve noticed in my shape and size. I’ve been told on more than one occasion by someone I’ve only spoken to on one occasion that I look really good.
(But I didn’t look bad before?)
I’ve been told that now that I’ve ‘lost the weight’, I should ‘kick my smoking habit’.
(I should, but why do you feel the need to comment?)
I’ve been told that I need to buy smaller clothes because my old ones are ‘hanging off me’.
It’d be ridiculous if I said that some of the compliments weren’t nice – of course they are, who doesn’t like the odd compliment occasionally? But when losing a significant amount of weight, you soon feel like everyone else has something to say about it. It’s also a bit of a headfuck to go from being fat and having a ridiculous number of negative comments thrown your way, to being slimmer and receiving glowing compliments.
It throws you.
It also opens your eyes further to the shitstorm that are body image ideals in current society.
It also makes you realise that some people wanted nothing to do with you before you lost weight.
It also makes you realise that some people want nothing to do with you now that you have lost weight.
Losing weight is also really weird when you’ve spent most of your life fat.
I’ve identified as a fat woman for around 15 years, and it was only in the latter few years that I’d felt positively about my body. Being fat was part of my identity, I fought for my voice and my position in a society that battled against everything I was. Being a smaller fat doesn’t mean that my voice is any less heard (as much as people would like to think), it just means that I have another experience to offer to the world.
My headspace remains positive: I love how I looked before and I love how I look now, I’m sure if I lose more weight or gain weight, I’ll love how I look then too. I’ve come to learn that my body has no influence on my worth and I think that this is the most important thing that I’ve learnt as I’ve lost weight.
I have not felt more or less worthy being a size 26, 24, 22, 20, 18 or 16.
If you take one thing from this post, whether you support my experience or not, please let it be that the size of your waist has no impact on your worth – you’re worthy of your own love.